SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A Springfield police officer is healing at home after police said that a man tried to kill him last night.
Law enforcement told Western Mass News that Officer Greg Vatrano was stabbed in his uniform's trauma plate while pursuing a suspect.
Police said Vatrano was running after Reuben Barrero, Jr. when all of the sudden, Barrero turned around and aimed straight for Vatrano's heart with a kitchen knife.
They noted that the only thing stopping the blade from piercing Vatrano's skin was a small tile embedded in a vest that all officers wear on the street.
Bulletproof vests often dominate the conversation on police officer attire, but Springfield Police said the trauma plate, worn over the chest, can stop a blade.
On Wednesday night, they said it saved Vatrano from serious injury.
"Actually struck the trauma plate of his bulletproof vest, ripped his shirt and hit the trauma plate and we recovered the kitchen knife. Springfield police officers must wear their ballistic vest if they’re going out on the street on-duty and on the vest in the center is a steel plate called a trauma plate. It covers your heart area," said Acting Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
The trauma plate is worn underneath the officer's uniform and said that it would not have been visible to Barrero, but Clapprood said that Barrero didn't stop when his first attempt on Vatrano's life was unsuccessful.
"He was delivering blows to the officers head and body. The taser was deployed on Mr. Barrero, but was ineffective. Officer Vatrano was suffering from a broken hand and cuts and bruises. [How long is Officer Vatrano expected to be out of work?] With a broken hand, he’s going to go week-to-week with me, but at the start, we’re guessing six weeks," Clapprood noted.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno spoke at a press briefing, offering his support for the four year veteran of the force.
"I spoke with Officer Vatrano very early this morning. He’s looking to get back on ASAP," Sarno noted.
This case strikes close to the heart for Sarno as well.
"This is a family member a cousin and this shows the dangerousness of what our men and women go through," Sarno explained.
Vatrano's brother, Frank, is a former Boston Bruin, currently playing for the Florida Panthers.
Officer Vatrano was released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
Barrero is facing several charges including arson, armed assault with attempt to murder, two counts of assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest. He's due in court tomorrow.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.